Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

By Aesop


There is a dream and there is the inevitable/reality. One might dream of a great future. In order for that to happen though, one must sleep first, plunge into the unconscious- Morpheus’s territory. Those ruling Ethiopia and Eritrea dream peace and prosperity on the floor of Tigrai genocide (to not mincing words). But that can only be possible if the variables or real world determinants are tangible. History tells us that some rulers have wiped an entire groups of people from the face of this planet. Genocide does succeed. That means, only realistic, not idealistic, works in practice. Anyone who denies reality, no matter how diligent, can never escaped its grip. Let me leave the abstract and resume plane language.

Today, in mainstream Horn of Africa, we have a serious show down looming between those who wish to dictate people they never hailed from and the indigenous groups fighting for self-preservation- primarily led by the Tigrai State and the OLA. Eritrea wants to lord it over Ethiopia; Ethiopia wants to lord it over Tigrai and Oromia (the OLA faction). Ideally, the dream is for everyone to achieve their goal. But this mutually exclusive interests, no matter how strong one craves for negotiation, can’t coexist in our real world. The reality is this: dictators use force to crash challengers, hence, their name.

Tigrai’s future is this: its enemies will deploy force to invade it. That option may be irrational choice for them but nor are dictators. A rational person doesn’t aspire to be a dictators over own species for he knows all men are created equal- a dictator does not! Tigrai’s enemies will, hopefully mistakenly, try to arms twist Tigrai into war. That, despite our dreams (in the sleeping world), is the inevitable reality. So, the question is this: will they fail or succeed?

That takes us to Jared Diamond’s book: “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”. In this book, Diamond essentially studied societies that collapsed. Some were on top; others were underdogs. Either way, he came up with four causes behind collapse.

  1. A group may fail to anticipate a problem before the problem actually arrives.
    1. This happens when the society has no precedence, it has forgotten its bad experience or has derived a false analogy.
  2. When a problem does arrive, the group may fail to perceive it.
    1. The problem may be imperceptible, the leader/managers are distant, the leaders may be comfortable in the heat (boiling frog/creeping normalcy), forgot the pain (amnesia), or don’t perceive change
  3. After they perceiving the problem, they main fail to even try to solve it.
    1. Rational yet immoral: Focus on short term gain, selfish but immoral decision, elite against people interest.
    1. Irrational: persistence in error, stuck in sunk cost (paid for/wasted past ticket), cultural prejudice, false alarm, group think/herd mentality, denial
  4. They may try to solve it but it may not succeed
    1. The cost may be too expensive, effort may be too little or too late, lagging to solve problems timely (backsliding solutions).

In short, Diamond tells us that nations collapse when they lack experience/precedent, when they are reluctant, when they act rationally (self-interested) or irrational, and when they fail to solve the problem at the right time. I am convinced that Diamond’s study apply to what faces Tigrai and its detractors.

What makes Diamond an amazing scholar is his ability to transcend pessimism. He wrote another great book title “Upheaval”- an expose of how nations rise from the ashes. In this book, Diamond identified, once again, four variables that distinguish nations that rise from the ashes and those that don’t. These are as follows:

  1. Perception/acknowledging failure: national consensus, national responsibility, and honest appraisal plus accurate information
    1. Mobilization: aid and understanding, adopting best practices and learning for experience, and tapping values
    1. Action: selective chance, patience (tolerance, negotiation, and gal for complexity)
    1. Succeed: selective flexibility (identifying compromise and stance), prioritizing core values, and freedom from geopolitical constraints.

Now, in his book entitled “Upheaval: How Nations Cope With Crisis and Change”, Diamond challenges its leaders as well as its people to check themselves. Have they reflected internally; have they mobilized their base and allies; have they acted the right way; and are they flexible enough to make compromise, stand their ground, and yet, as Meles once said, I wrote on this: ‘on Meles on Leadership’ few years ago), “say ‘No!’” when they must!

All in all, Tigrai and its detractors will collide. Whoever learns from Diamond’s Collapse will survive. And, whoever learns from Diamond’s Upheaval will thrive. We all dream but there is reality that great scholars like Diamond have spend decades studying. It is the prerogative of Tigrai’s leaders to adopt these lessons and realize the dream of the people who elected them- the ancient people who claimed nothing but a just cause.

By aiga